Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Seattle 'Kayaktavists' Plan Civil Disobedience against Shell Oil

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Seattle 'Kayaktavists' Plan Civil Disobedience against Shell Oil

Article excerpt

They've come by the hundreds to Seattle's Elliott Bay - colorful kayaks and canoes, paddle boards and sailboats - to protest Royal Dutch Shell's plan to drill in the Arctic Ocean. Looming large nearby is Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig, the first of two oil- drilling rigs the oil giant plans to use this summer as it explores for oil off Alaska's northern coast.

So far, the "kayaktavists" and other protesters - acting under the "sHellNo" coalition of "activists, artists, and noisemakers" - have kept their legal distance (100 yards or so) as the US Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies keep an eye on them/

But on Monday, some are vowing, they will escalate their efforts to include acts of civil disobedience - perhaps an attempt to scale the 400-foot long, 300-foot tall rig, soon to be joined by the Noble Discoverer rig, which arrived at the Port of Everett last week and is slated to join the Polar Pioneer at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5.

On Sunday afternoon, sHellNo.org has scheduled "NonViolent Direct Action Training" for Monday's "Mass Direct Action."

"Prepare to take nonviolent direct action to protect the Arctic and the Climate," reads the online announcement. "This 2 hour training will prepare you with tips on how to stay safe and grounded through action, and know your rights in civil disobedience scenarios."

Seattle is known for rigorous, sometimes destructive protest - most memorably the "Battle in Seattle" in 1999 when activists, including out-of-town anarchists, destroyed property and fought with police during a meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). More recently, nine officers were injured and sixteen protesters were arrested during May Day demonstrations this month.

This week's flotilla protest against Shell is aimed at what activists say is the danger of damage to the Arctic environment as the result of oil exploration and drilling, as well as to the longer- term impact of climate change tied to the consumption of fossil fuels.

"Why would we invest in an energy source that scientists say is leading us to catastrophe?" said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA.

For its part, Shell asserts that the Arctic holds about 30 percent of the world's undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of its oil. …

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